novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Just damn. (Content warning).

The rigorous, spartan ethical code of blogging demands regular updates to one’s site: but sometimes, dear friends, the flesh is weak … and at such times we shift into 100% derivative mode for a spin around the blogosphere!

The Other McCain: According to a U.S. Department of Labor report Americans aren’t losing jobs; illegal aliens are.

Loudoun Insider: It looks like the Loudoun County Republican Committee is growing stronger. (Good to hear, but just the thought of it makes me weary to the bones).

MonkeyWatch: Ed has an incisive observation on this nascent Web 3.0 thing. (Reminds me of one of my favorite, and highly prescient Web docs, Metacrap).

The Oath: Are we on track for America’s first Abortion President?

Donny Ferguson: Even Richard Nixon was more trusted than this Congress. (With Congress at 6%, I would say every single used car salesman is probably more trusted than this Congress).

Digital Camel: Resurrecting the greatest TV show of all time. Ah Croooow! – we hardly knew ye.

And as a follow up to our exuberant celebration of bipartisanship last week, Jeanne West now claims she was hoodwinked by the right wing media. Almost as though she had no idea Supervisor Delgaudio was the primary subject of the report until she saw it on TV. Funny, that.

Have you ever wondered where all the dead are?  I know that when the physical body dies that it can be burned, buried, mulched or feed (unintentional…..maybe not) for “others”.  Now the spirit (for those that believe) lives on for eternal life or damnation.  Maybe even a personal ghost or two while waiting for resurrection.  Absolutely NO ONE comes back as a tree! 

There are cemetaries everywhere and even Arlington National is having to expand its grounds.  People are looking for alternatives-espescially the “greeners”.  Because I am old and am still making my “peace” with the creator (which, in itself, is a lifelong chore for me) I don’t necessarily want to be reminded about my vulnerability and inevitable end.  Mind you, I worked in a bone orchard for many years and it has no phasing on me whatsoever.  However, what I want to know is this:

Are all those memorials along the road right-of-ways and in the medians really gravesites?  If not, why are they there?  I won’t get into statistics but I guarantee that at least 12 people die everyday in this counrty and I probably don’t know them.  I don’t know most of the people in the cemetaries.  If I did and I really wanted to talk to a piece of marble or a dirt spot, then that is where I would go to do it. 

Death is inevitable (physical).  Sometimes it is tragic-sometimes not.  Regardless of how or where, if you want to memorialize someone then name a building or street or park after them.  Create a schlorship fund in their rememberance.  Whatever you feel you must do, do it in a way that does not get in my face or infringe on my quality of life because I don’t want to see YOUR memorial for Pop, Pepe or Pooch on the right-of-ways that I am taxed for up-keep!  It kinda bugs me just like when your favorite TV show gets done with 5 minutes of commercials, then rejoins the show while you are subjected to MORE commercials on the bottom third of the screen (especially when you can’t read the subtitles because of the commercial).  These memorials don’t belong there.  Yes, as a taxpayer AND an activist, I don’t believe….I know they don’t belong there. Period.  More signage eyesore in my book.  Put the memorials where they belong-in your locker, on the mantle, on the dash of your car, on your livingroom or bedroom wall (or bathroom for you sicko’s), in your yard.  Heck, you can stick them up your a** for all I care.  Just keep the frigin things off the road right-of-ways!!!!  Thanks.

Our energy policy over the past 30 plus years has been abysmal. We have gone from having a robust electrical grid that had margin in the system to allow it to meet summer peaks in demand, to a strained system with rolling brown-outs in California. We have been in a state of paralysis due to competing economic, ideological and political interests, and the NIMBY mindset. Having oil from overseas coming in at $27 per barrel also made it easy to do nothing.

In a previous post I began to lay out some of the energy issues confronting our country, and how nuclear power is the most logical choice as an alternative to oil. In this article I expand on the feasibility of deploying nuclear power, its current availability, and some of the safety concerns. The hopelessness of attempting to use other alternatives such as wind, given the current state of that technology, is also touched upon.

Oil is now over $140 per barrel; much of it going to countries whose regimes are openly hostile. The economy is being impacted negatively by the price of oil and its corresponding $500B per year drag on the economy. It will only get worse. Not planning for this day to come is an epic failure on the part of our political leadership from both parties. For the past three decades, this threat has been on the horizon. The collective lack of vision, cowardice, and pandering to partisan supporters has brought us to this predicament. The failure is tragic, because it was ever so preventable.

Currently the United States has 104 Nuclear Power Plants. These power plants provide us with 97.4GW of electricity, which is ~19% of all electrical power generation in the country. These power plants are operating in 31 states, in 65 locations. There are 27 shutdown reactors, many of which can be brought back on line with some overhaul. In 1972 the United States had 42 commercial reactors, the number of reactors rose steadily to 96 by 1985. The number of reactors peaked at 112 in 1990, with a peak in percentage electrical production of 21% occurring in 2001. The French currently get 78% of their electrical power from nuclear reactors.

For us to achieve the same level of independence from fossil fuels we would need to build over 250 new reactors. McCain proposes 45 new reactors, which can be charitably characterized as a ‘good start‘. Obama proposes no new nuclear power generation, this defies charitable characterization. According to Westinghouse, the time it takes to bring a modern class reactor on line is 3 to 5 years.

The AP1000 design saves money and time with an accelerated construction time period of approximately 36 months, from the pouring of first concrete to the loading of fuel.

The 5 year number is intentionally pessimistic so as to account for site preparation etc. Furthermore, if we start building 45 let alone 250 such plants the construction time is likely to decrease. When compared to the most optimistic estimates as to when the other zero emission powers sources will come on line this 3 to 5 year wait appears wildly optimistic; for other alternative energy sources such as solar, wind or bio-diesel will start to produce electricity on this scale in some 30 years, maybe. Can we afford to bank our nations future on such whimsy?

The peak number of plants we had under construction was 5 per year from 1980 to 1985. The nuclear industry outside the U.S. has not been idle, there are many modern designs to choose from, all of which are far safer than the infamous TMI design (whose safety systems were successful in stopping the problem from escalating). If we where to bring 5 or more new reactors on line for the next 20 to 40 years we could retire the use of fossil fuels. Such a pace is not beyond the industry’s capacity, and, if commitment is made to pursue this known technology, the rate of plant construction can be greatly increased over time.

Our need for energy will increase over the coming years. According to the DOE, the number of households will increase by over 25% by 2030. This increase will require the production of electricity in the US to accelerate. Considering that US production has stagnated over the past decades, this is a worrisome prospect. We are on our way to a having third world energy grid if we do not take decisive action now.

FORECASTS INDICATE that the U.S. will need about 335 billion W of new generating capacity by 2025, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy, Science & Technology.

That is a huge increase in needed capacity. To ensure we meet this need, we must turn to a source that can cover the current shortfall and expand on an industrial scale to meet the growing future needs. Conservation alone will not meet our needs; wind power, typified by 2MW wind mills that require 1200 such wind mills to generate as much electricity as a single modern 1GW nuclear plant, will never meet our needs.

To match nuclear power, wind power would need to build 240,000 2MW windmills. At three months per windmill, it will be a century before wind power could meet our needs in 2025. When the forecast calls then for an increase of some 50 new nuclear reactors just to maintain the current 20% of electrical production, how many more fossil fuel based plants does this then indicate? If we choose to ignore the current inadequacy of other alternative power how much economic misery will this bring?

Generation III and IV Nuclear reactor designs are far and away safer than their predecessors and are thereby building on a very solid foundation. The generation II reactors have an excellent safety record.

Generation III systems were developed in the 1990s and feature enhanced safety systems. They are more economical to build, operate, and maintain than the previous generation …

… a vast amount of effort is going into enhancing the safety of advanced generation III+ reactor designs that are now evolving and the revolutionary generation IV technologies. They all incorporate what is known as passive safety systems.

The current coal fired plants put more Thorium and other radioactive debris into the atmosphere as part of their typical operation than will be generated and contained by a nuclear power plant. Japan is in the most seismically active regions of the world, and they have made the decision to develop this for power. Europe has also made the decision to press ahead despite the fact that they are far more densely populated than we are.

We are approaching a crossroads where we need to make some hard choices. Nothing is guaranteed in life, that is why the founders sought to protect our right to pursue happiness, note they did not guarantee happiness, just its pursuit; to continue to be paralyzed by ignorance, fear and the hope that the problem will just go away will lead to an economic collapse. Along the way to this collapse, by not choosing, we then do nothing and watch our wealth continue to line the pockets of those who hate us via the oil we will then buy and use.

The alternative is that we, like other first world nations, begin the long overdue path to becoming free of these parasites. Considering that the during last oil embargo we imported 30% of our oil, imagine the impact of such an embargo now — we import 60% of our oil today. At the very least, nuclear power can buy us the time to develop a power source that would satisfy even the most militant environmentalist.

Erica Garman spent the day wheeling around Sterling yesterday, read about it here.

That’s right.  It even hits those that distribute to the public hard in the wallet.  This is his answer.  Although I don’t think that it is cost effective yet and the distance to time ratio is a little lop-sided, the view is incredible! Like minds think alike and this is where the idea showed first fruition!

For the first time, Asians will be the largest group entering Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, according to the Washington Post.  It’s not just TJ, either.  The article goes on to say that,

The rising concentration of Asian Americans at T.J. mirrors demographic trends in other elite math and science magnet schools. In New York, the selective and specialized Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School have Asian American majorities, although about 10 percent of the metropolitan population is of Asian descent. In San Francisco, Asian Americans make up more than 60 percent of the students at selective Lowell High School and about a third of the city’s population.

Asians make up less than 10% of the residents in the Washington area, so why are they so overrepresented at the highest end of the educational spectrum?  Are they innately more intelligent?  There is little evidence to support that.  It is possible that selection for intelligence has occurred in China, so the more intelligent have more children, but there is no evidence for that either.  However, there is evidence of a cultural difference:

The success of Asian American students reflects the educational commitment found in many immigrant communities, particularly for second-generation students fluent in English and encouraged by upwardly mobile parents who came to the United States for higher education or professional positions.

Yes, I think culture is more likely to explain the differences in racial disparities in education and achievement.